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Trees no longer face chop after U-turn - but drivers may have to get on the buses

 

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Motorists will be encouraged to commute by bus instead

Motorists will be encouraged to commute by bus instead

Motorists will be encouraged to commute by bus instead

Trees and gardens that were due for the chop under the controversial €2bn Bus Connects plan to reduce traffic gridlock and journey times in Dublin are now set to be saved, according to information seen by the Herald.

First mooted by the National Transport Authority (NTA) under the Bus Connects banner in 2018, the plan for 16 double- decker highways radiating out to the suburbs from the city centre was criticised by many.

Around 10,000 people made submissions that were examined by the NTA, which will announce a revised plan today.

Saving the trees and many of the gardens will be seen as a victory for opponents who tied ribbons around endangered mature trees on both sides of the Liffey.

However, it will be a blow to motorists who will end up with the choice of switching to public transport or adapting to kilometres of one-way systems and dozens of bus gates and traffic lights that will give priority to double-deckers.

Safety

Apart from the plan to have 230km of dedicated bus corridors in the capital, there was a proposal for 200km of cycle lanes.

However, several cycling lobby groups have voiced concerns about cyclists' safety if they are forced to share roads and junctions with buses and other traffic.

Some details of the Bus Connects redesign have been seen by the Herald, and they appear to show how public anger at the initial proposal has prompted a U-turn on chopping down mat-ure trees and taking people's gardens.

"Having reviewed submissions made during the first round of public consultation on the Emerging Preferred Routes for the 16 Core Bus Corridors (CBCs) during 2019, one of the key issues raised was the potential impact and removal of mature trees," said the information seen by the Herald.

"Bus Connects has made significant design revisions to the proposal in order to minimise the impact on mature trees while still achieving the required bus and cycling priority for the city to address congestion and reduce pollution.

"Measures included in the preferred route option proposals to minimise the impact on trees while maintaining bus priority along each CBC include the introduction of signal controlled priority, bus gates, one-way systems for general traffic, implementing quiet street treatments and off-route cycle tracks where feasible.

"The vast majority of what may be considered landmark, long-term established and mat-ure trees along many of the city streets and suburbs will no longer be impacted, and where additional trees are to be removed they are mostly younger, smaller and less established.

"There will be a comprehensive replanting programme during the construction of Bus Connects, with more trees being replanted than removed.

"In addition, there are a number of public realm areas identified across the corridors where significant planting will form an important part of their design."

According to the Bus Conn-ects information, most of the planned tree removal is to allow for the construction of more off-line segregated cycle tracks, in some instances running behind the roadside treeline.

Examples include the cycleway along the River Poddle, west of Kimmage Road Lower, and the new two-way segregated cycle-track that will run inside the grounds of Hermitage Golf Club on the Lucan to city centre CBC.

Another major issue identified during the first round of consultation on the Core Bus Corridor project was in relation to proposals to eat into gardens along the length of the proposed routes.

Explored

It now appears that alter- natives have been explored to reduce the number of properties impacted from last year's proposals.

"Measures to reduce the impact on properties utilised in the preferred route option proposals include quiet street treatment, bus gates, signal controlled priority, off-track cycle routes and alterations to road layouts, such as the introduction of one-way systems and off-street car parks," the information about the new proposals said.

It is understood these measures have reduced the need to widen roads to allow bus priority, which will see a 42pc decrease in the number of impacted properties in the current proposal.